Mammoth bones found in man-made pit reveal tantalizing evidence of hunting behavior

Mammoth bones found in man-made pit reveal tantalizing evidence of hunting behavior

The two pits in Tultepec north of Mexico City are the first mammoth traps to be discovered, officials say.

Moreover, they believe they have made the first-ever find of a mammoth trap set by humans, who would have used it to capture the huge herbivores more than 14,000 years ago, said Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

This differs from anthropologists' previous belief that early humans only killed mammoths that were already wounded or trapped.

Researchers from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History said on Wednesday (local time) the pits were found during excavations on land that was to be used as a garbage dump. The human-made pits each measured about 1.7 metres (6 feet) deep and 25 metres wide, with 90-degree walls to prevent mammoths from climbing out.

The discovery marks a turning point in how we understand the relationship between mammoths and humans during our hunter-gatherer phase, according to Pedro Francisco Sanchez Nava, national co-ordinator of archeology at the INAH.


The land where the ancient pits and trapped mammoths were found is located in the neighborhood of Tultepec, a few miles north of Mexico City. Mammoths, many researchers assumed, were only attacked by humans when hunters happened upon the animals in a compromised position - a mammoth stuck in a swamp, for example.

"Mammoths lived here for thousands of years". In that case, workers digging to install drainage pipe uncovered mammoth remains.

It was unclear if plans for the dump would proceed. Archaeologists spent 10 months excavating the sites.

824 bones were recovered from the mammoth traps.

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